Unravelling before your eyes

Dutch artist Johan Rijpma's video sculpture uses sticky tape to fascinating and hypnotic effect
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Johan Rijpma's 'Tape Generations' starts with one roll of sticky tape slowly unravelling
Johan Rijpma's 'Tape Generations' starts with one roll of sticky tape slowly unravelling

It always amazes us what everyday object artists will change our perception of next. This time it's sticky tape thanks to Dutch artist Johan Rijpma. Tape Generations is a short film of rolls of tape stuck to a surface and then gradually unravelling. Arranged in patterns initially, the tapes fall and come un-stuck at different rates, sometimes dropping suddenly and taking other rolls with them. 

Rijpma, who studied at Utrecht School of the Arts in Hilversum says that the project took around six months to complete, with some sequences taking hours to film. "I tried many different compositions and then made a selection," Rijpma says. "A single composition could take more than 12 hours to develop."

Starting from their symmetrical position, the rolls are filmed from all directions on a spinning surface as they slowly drop down - or up (much of the filming was done upside down, giving the impression the tapes are defying gravity. "The spinning plate was done by hand," Rijpma explains. "Turning the plate about 0.4 degrees every 30 seconds meant I was standing in the wind and the rain for hours watching the tape 'grow' and watching the sun come up and go down."

Rijpma's dedication to his stop motion films is also evident in the equally fascinating animation Tegels, a collection of photographs of street tiles, which you can watch below. Cracks seem to move and rotate, lichens chase each other, merge and divide and grass grows around the tile edges. Rijpma says: "Both music and animation are trying to find a balance between a thought-out arrangement and an arrangement of 'chance' deriving directly from the tiles." 


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